Save Womanby Street And Make It An Area of Outstanding Natural Noise (AONN)

The live music venues on Womanby Street, Cardiff are under threat. I didn’t realise until today that we are on such thin ice here. I thought it would have been nipped in the bud really quickly owing to it being so ridiculous. But no, property developers have actually put in planning applications to build flats and hotels right next to my beloved Clwb Ifor Bach and other live music venues. This comes straight off the back of Dempseys closing (which I blogged about last month). I could pretty much copy + paste most of what I wrote there regarding any messing with Womanby Street being bad news for culture, art and music. It would also bad for the health and wellbeing of people as Womanby Street is fun as f*ck and always has been since forever. The street is full of independent, alternative venues in a city full of tedious chain bars. Once again, this feels such a Cardiffy thing to happen and it echoes the closure of The Point in Cardiff Bay in 2009. One noise complaint and boom, it’s all over.

The building on the left is the block of posh flats they are planning on building. Wtf? I've put the house on there for a laugh. 

The building on the left is the block of posh flats they are planning on building. Wtf? I've put the house on there for a laugh. 

I’m not anti ‘progress’ and this isn’t some kind of nostalgia trip from when Womanby street used to be thriving. It is thriving now, in real time. Clwb Ifor Bach is irreplaceable. I try to look at things in a balanced way but I struggle to reason with building a hotel or posh flats on a street with so many venues. Womanby Street should be designated for conservation due to its significant cultural value. Much like the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - Womanby Street should be made an Area of Outstanding Natural Noise (AONN). Loud music is good noise, people enjoying themselves of an evening is good noise. It is appropriate to the street. Although my AONB comparison is slightly tongue in cheek, fortunately, people are actually putting pressure on The Welsh Assembly via a petition to make the street ‘an area of cultural significance for music’. Unbelievably, it isn’t the case yet that it is the responsibility of the developer to soundproof their new development, even if they move in next to a noisy night club. Apparently these already exist in London so fingers crossed Wales will see sense and do the same. Sign the petition here.  

It is energising to see people are rallying together and I have huge respect & appreciation to whoever is behind the @savewomanbyst campaign on Twitter & Facebook. 

I've got a Farm Hand gig on 22nd April (celebrating Record Store Day)  in Outpost - a new coffee & vinyl venture in Castle Emporium on Womanby Street. Come along and get fired up with me. 

Flying Solo

The week before last I did two days recording for a Farm Hand album. This is the first time I’ve ever attempted to make a ‘solo’ record. Every aspect of the music being my decision is liberating and and kind of overwhelming. Music is so much about decision making. Is that the take? Is that the tone? Is that the tempo? So many questions to answer. So many mistakes to make.

When I started Farm Hand, I decided to embrace the limitations. Seeing as it is just me, I decided I should only use a keyboard, a drum machine and some assorted pedals. My main aim was to be able to do gigs with just one suitcase. Playing in Islet I am used to having a lot of gear. For the first two years we used two full drums kits onstage next to each other. The bit when we were onstage was lots of fun but having to talk nicely to sound engineers who didn’t understand the point was, wasn’t. Using two drum kits was very enjoyable though - look at Emms & JT bashing the shit out of them at our first ever Islet gig in Clwb Ifor Bach in 2009: 

Anyway, I want the Farm Hand recording process to be relatively quick and don't want to worry about the Universe Of Sounds I could potentially use. Keep it minimal fuss and easy to make decisions. Well, that was out of the window within about 2 hours of starting. I got overexcited and was recording live drums over the drum machines and flicking through the billions of keyboard sound options on MIDI. Ooops.

I got this drum machine at a car boot for approx. 50p. When I started Farm Hand I decided I would write one song per beat on it (there are 10).  I've done that now so album recording has commenced. 'Cha Cha' is my fav beat. 

I got this drum machine at a car boot for approx. 50p. When I started Farm Hand I decided I would write one song per beat on it (there are 10).  I've done that now so album recording has commenced. 'Cha Cha' is my fav beat. 

Fortunately, I am recording it with a patient and musically talented man from the West Midlands called Rob Jones. Rob uses Ableton Live and is passionate about his preferred DAW. I’ve never recorded with anyone using that software but after watching him speed around on it for two days, I think it is a good one. My brother, JT (who is recording the Islet album we're also working on atm) is equally as passionate about his preferred software: Logic. They don’t really know each other yet so I can’t wait to get them in a room together head to head to discuss functionality, interface design and colour palettes. Oof, imagine the scenes. I will be sure to chip in with stuff about the Monster voice effect on Garageband. For the record, it is unlikely I will start doing DAW reviews on this blog, but it remains an option.

I don’t really like singing into posh vocal mics or anything like that as it feels like those are for people with posh voices and proper songs. Luckily, Rob guessed I'd be like that and bought a selection of more tantalising mics to use. My fav is 'The Chief' as it makes me feel like a trucker. 

The chief is going to all over the recording as it makes me feel like I'm talking on a CB radio. 

The chief is going to all over the recording as it makes me feel like I'm talking on a CB radio. 

Anyways, it is fun and going well and we're recording again next week. Islet wise, we are now 68% of the way there. Mega excited about that one as well. I will do a blog about it at some point.

I have started a 'Live' page on this website to post when I am making a live appearance, be it a gig, a talk or whatever. Spoiler alert, this is what I have got coming up: 

Farm Hand - 29/4/17 - Machynlleth Comedy Festival 

Islet  - 13/5/17 - Focus Wales, Wrexham

More to come! Thanks for reading.  

 

Dempseys Was Crucial

In case you didn’t know, the news in Wales is: Gareth Bale (alongside Brains) is opening a ‘Premium Sports Bar’ in Dempseys, Cardiff. Now, before I begin, yes, I’m aware I ran away to the hills so I don’t get to have a big opinion on this as I don’t live in Cardiff anymore. Also, yes, there are much worse things happening in the country for me to get hysterical about. Nevertheless, here goes. 

According to Wales Online “There was anger over the closure of Dempseys, until now” (now being when Gareth Bale announced his news). Well, I’ve got news for you, Wales’ premier news site. I’m a bit angry and annoyed about it and here is why. 

This photo taken yesterday by my friend, @TomosMonpot, who I likely met in Dempseys really hit home. No more Music & Live Bands in Dempseys.   

This photo taken yesterday by my friend, @TomosMonpot, who I likely met in Dempseys really hit home. No more Music & Live Bands in Dempseys.   

This is bad news for culture, art and music. Dempseys as a music venue and meeting place was crucial. From my experience there has always been a concern amongst Welsh music biz types about the lack of ‘midsize’ venues in Cardiff. The 300 - 1000 type of thing. Problem is, there is now a bigger problem with a lack of grassroots, micro-gig sized venues. The entry level 80 - 200 cap is where I have pretty much always put on gigs and played gigs. Dempseys was the type of place people, budding promoters and bands could take a risk and put on a night in the centre of town. I think it was about £90 all in to hire. It was a the perfect place to put on a small gig. 

As Shape, we put on the likes of experimental harpist Rhodri Davies, Bahrain-via-London psychonauts Flamingods and did an album launch for the Mowbird LP we released in there. We played an Islet show there at the Shape showcase at SWN 2009. It was all good fun and an ideal place to put on these art focussed, niche gigs. It’ll be much harder to find places for these type of gigs in Cardiff now. 

I wrote on Emma's back for the poster for the Shape gig at SWN09. Please note the spelling of Dempseys. Well, we could hardly photoshop it out could we. 

I wrote on Emma's back for the poster for the Shape gig at SWN09. Please note the spelling of Dempseys. Well, we could hardly photoshop it out could we. 

The venue closing is sad, but what makes it worse is the blandness of what is to follow. Gone is the folk, jazz, avant rock, pop and Twisted By Design. No more performances or invention. No longer a hub of the music scene where like minded souls met, formed bands, exchanged ideas and collaborated. The focus will now be on absorbing Sky Sports, over priced food and consumerism. A soulless, corporate place where they want zombies to have a 'banter' about the football, not thinking or having any ideas. Get in line. No one expressing anything other than frustration at referees and punching the air for goal celebrations. 

This is such a Cardiffy thing to happen. Anything to water down culture and identity for sports and big brands. I saw someone on Facebook refer to it as 'cultural vandalism', sounds about right to me. For context, I do actually like football. I’m addicted to the never-ending soap opera. It is junk food for my hungry mind, I know football has no real nutritional value and always results in disappointment but I love watching it. I watched pretty much all home internationals when I lived in South Wales for 13 years. I first saw Gareth Bale play live when he was 17, dominating the left flank for Wales v Cyprus in 2009 alongside about 5000 other people in a ghost town Millennium Stadium. But I love music more and I’m worried about the knock on effect of this latest closure. 

I don’t want to hate on Gareth for this too much for this but the lack of imagination on show here is overwhelming. I appreciate he is excellent at kicking a football around on the grass but he did go into full stereotypical footballer mode in the inane promo vid… “We hope to have the best burger in Cardiff”. Flipping heck, really? (Good luck with that though as the guys at Uncle Sams on Crwys Rd won’t give that trophy up without a fight). Maybe it will be a place where people go and have an above average time. I hope so but it has got big shoes to fill.

Of course Gareth doesn't care about the upstairs function room with its little gigs. Gareth & Brains care about money, not creativity or community. This is a commercial investment. I don't know anything about the economics of Dempseys, maybe Brains was losing considerable amounts of money a month so it had to make a change. I’m feeling quite negative but I know these things ebb and flow and fingers crossed something will pop up soon to replace the gig space, but there was something about Dempseys. We’ve lost a highly valuable live music venue and in it’s place, a super rich footballer’s vanity project. So long, Dempseys. Thanks for the fun.

Anyway, we're doing Islet recording right now so I best get back to listen to the drum take. Thanks for reading. 

All Back To (Our Version Of) Normal 

Emms is back from her tour. It is great to have her back home, although I shall miss being able to say “she’s on a 23 date tour of Wales doing provocative feminist gig-theatre” when locals ask me where she is.

“Oh, I didn’t know she was an actress” they say.
“No, neither did I" I reply. 

I’d been looking forward to her getting back. I’d say to my Mum “It’ll be nice to get back to normal”. “Not long now”, she’d say. I’ve since realised that we don’t have a ‘normal’ and never really have. Every week is different. I know everyone has a different version of normal but ours feels pretty 'out there' atm. Granted, living in the middle of the countryside, miles from the urban arena and more sensible ways of earning a living probably adds to that.

Emma & Pınar Öğün entertaining us on the Facetimes whilst backstage in Holyhead, Anglesey. We'll miss being remotely entertained by the Enough is Enough crew. 

Emma & Pınar Öğün entertaining us on the Facetimes whilst backstage in Holyhead, Anglesey. We'll miss being remotely entertained by the Enough is Enough crew. 

In the first blog post I wrote when I made this site, I mentioned how I never know how to answer the question "What do you do?". This week, it feels like one of those weeks where I understand why I find it tricky to answer. I've done two days teaching, a morning of mentoring, meetings to arrange an event, Skype meeting with our Islet booking agent, 2 days of writing and rehearsing and some label and assorted admin. 

The last two days doing Islet writing have been great. I feel we’re writing more efficiently than ever before. We were planning on recording this week but decided to get everything sharpened up a bit and will record next week instead.

I’ve done a lot of miles in the car and as a result, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and music. I can strongly recommend listening to NOSAJ THING ‘Fated’ and the Tiny Desk Concerts podcast.

Today we are sitting by the fire, catching up, drinking tea and working out the logistics for our Islet gig in Sheffield next weekend. Looking forward to it.

Recorded Music FTW

The sun is shining beautifully today. There are snowdrops and daffs shooting up all around. It was light until past 17:30 last night. I love this time of year, we're ready for spring around here.

I'm very excited to be recording both Islet & Farm Hand music over the next month. We started recording an Islet album in late August so if all goes to plan we should be able to finish it... soon. To clarify, we did a week of recording in late August / early September and haven't been able to do any since - we've not being doing it solidly since then! We're not the Stone Roses*! Not going to put a public deadline on finishing it but I'm optimistic we should be able to hammer it out pretty sharpish. We're doing it all ourselves, just as we did the EP, with my brother JT doing all the recording and mixing. He has ALL the skills on the DAWs! I'm a proud older brother. I tried to convince myself I could be someone who does recording but I've recently tried to do Farm Hand recording and I've realised it isn't part of my skill set for the time being. I haven't got the patience! Rather than be cross with myself about it, I'm accepting it, even though I am quite cross with myself about it. I feel like I 'should' be able to cope with it. I can get it all set up, put a mic somewhere, press record and do 1 take and then I just go on my phone. My respect for people who record well is massive! Well done to you all, recording people. 

After that, I plan on making a Farm Hand album quite quickly, embracing the limitations of being a one-man band. I'm going to make a record with a great man called Rob Jones. 

Thanks to everyone who has reached out as a result of me writing this blog, it is nice to know you are reading it. I totally didn't expect to be a person who writes a blog but it looks like I am now. Having said that, I recently read that, in a way, we are all bogging these days. Anyone who writes a tweet is microbloggin, instagram is photobloggin, Facebook is basically just bloggin. Just feels like an extension of that really. This is a classic 'nap time' blog. Child went to sleep and I opened my laptop and started typing.

Anyways, can't wait to get recording and put things onto tape (digital tape). Thanks, Mark. 

*didn't they take ages over an album or something? 

At home making a lot of noise. I watched the rap battle at the end of Eight Mile the other day to get me in the zone. 

At home making a lot of noise. I watched the rap battle at the end of Eight Mile the other day to get me in the zone. 

My set up. 

My set up. 

Caring About The Numbers

When I first started playing in a band the only number I remember worrying about was the number of people who would say "Attack + Defend" when asked who they were coming to see at the door at the Barfly in Cardiff. We'd get £1 of the £4 ticket for everyone who did. We made sixty odd quid at our first gig in January 2004, supporting a local band called 'Desensitzied'. We were absolutely buzzing!! As a result, we were offered a headline (!) gig 6 weeks later. I had never felt so proud. To be fair, we put the effort in with regards to flyering, postering and inviting friends. I would flyer anyone and everyone in those days. I used to look at the listings in Buzz, find appropriate and inappropriate gigs and go and stand outside waiting for the crowd to come out so I could give them all one of my photocopied back and white flyers. I was temping at Cardiff Council so I rinsed the photocopier in Llanrumney Housing office when everyone had left. Bad form! Mum, if you’re reading, don’t worry, it was 13 years ago, they won’t arrest me for this retrospectively.

I once handed out about 500 of these flyers at an NME tour show in Cardiff Uni for a gig we were doing in Floyds Bar (capacity 30 - I think we had about 13 in). We made a sandwich board to advertise our gigs and left it at the end of Queens Street until it got confiscated. My best guerrilla marketing tactic and the one I am most proud of was putting flyers in all of the NME and Q magazines in W. H. Smiths.

I just Googled 'attack defend desensitized barfly' to see if I could find the original flyer. I couldn't but I did find this gem. 'Sparky' is me and I was posting on the 'Dragonnija' forums (a big deal at the time). I love my GENIUS marketing move there 'news is that the venue will be very busy' ! 

I just Googled 'attack defend desensitized barfly' to see if I could find the original flyer. I couldn't but I did find this gem. 'Sparky' is me and I was posting on the 'Dragonnija' forums (a big deal at the time). I love my GENIUS marketing move there 'news is that the venue will be very busy' ! 

I find it quite overwhelming how much has changed since then. There are way more things to count now. Constants remain: how many records you sell, how many people came to your gig. But now we have so many numbers to care about! Twitter followers, RTs & favs / Facebook page & post likes / Instagram hearts / Soundcloud plays / Youtube hits / Mailchimp opens / Spotify page likes etc etc. Every single statistic tells you how popular you aren’t. This isn't meant to be a 'remember the good old days before the internet' nostalgia fest, but, from my own experience, it was more fun when there wasn't quite so many ways of measuring your success in real time. I'm excited about the future of music and technology and think that we're about to hit upon a time of more opportunities than ever for musicians. Doesn't mean it isn't really stressful putting music online though! Now when I put up a new song, I can’t help but sit there all day laptop open, phone in hand. When I'm not looking at the stats on my laptop, I'm looking on my phone. Or I'm dual screening and looking at both at the same time.

My band Islet spent the first 3 or 4 years of our existence without any social media at all. Looking back, it was rather nice. Now I feel like there is something to ‘do’ all the time. I should be posting about this or that. There are lots of positives as well though as it is nice to have direct conversations with audience and other artists. I think it is more the pressure of it being ‘promo’ that makes it difficult to navigate.

Islet 'Shunning the web' in 2009 

Islet 'Shunning the web' in 2009 

Recently, I've noticed more artists and bands are going for a really professional marketing style, drilling it day in day out. Others, like us, are more haphazard. Overall, I think I have more experience of slowly going off my favourite artists owing to their social media presence than I have falling more in love with them. Is that just me? There has definitely been a marked increase in how many Facebook sponsored posts people are doing. Are they working? I have only ever done 2 and they were for gigs I was putting on, last ditch efforts to get more people to come. I've decided I'm not going to do a sponsored FB post ever again because I don't like seeing them (and I think there are much better ways of spending money) so therefore I don't want to add to that noise.

How to cut through the noise? Stop adding to it...?

It’s easy to get into a tizz with social media. I’ve even got myself in a tizz about how to tweet. I have access to 4 Twitter accounts and I have recently taken to using Shape as my own but it has never felt right. It feels wrong tweeting opinions from Shape as myself as 'Shape' isn't me. It is a record label so maybe it shouldn't have a real voice. Also, it represents more people than just me (Lee, Emma, all of the acts we have released etc) so from now on I will be tweeting as @farmhandle. Join me over there. I feel I need to untangle myself from Shape to help work out where it is going to go next.

Twitter Searching

A week or so ago a live recording I did as Farm Hand for BBC Radio 3 was broadcast. I wrote this blog about it. 

It was my first ever solo radio session and I sat and listened to it on my own in the living room. The programme I was on started at 23:00, way over 1 hour past my current bedtime. My heart was POUNDING. It started, I could hear my voice way too much and the beats, bass and keyboard felt way too quiet, is it me or does it always sound too quiet when it is your thing?! I was thinking, 'oh gosh, it sounds awful!'.  

Anyway, I kind of sat uncomfortably and awkwardly listening to the 3 songs and interview. Then I did what any artist would do in that situation, I Twitter searched 'farm hand'. Why not get some real time feedback! Here was the one and only thing that came up: 

Now, bear in mind I at this point I had received 0 texts / emails / tweets regarding the session (crying emoji) so this was the ONLY feedback I had to go off. I wasn't a fan of the winky, tongue out emoji at the end so I started to take offence and was feeling vulnerable. Firstly, I googled 'Portsmouth Sinfonia'. To save you the bother if you don't know what it is: 'The world’s worst orchestra' is one of the top links on google.

BURN ! 

The Portsmouth Sinfonia was an orchestra founded by a group of students at the Portsmouth School of Art in England, in 1970. The Sinfonia was generally open to anyone and ended up drawing players that were either persons without musical training or, if they were musicians, ones that chose to play an instrument that was entirely new to them.

Ouch!

I felt like my heart had stopped. 

I then googled 'a la' as I wanted to know exactly what he meant. I kind of knew what it meant anyways, but I like googlin' and better be safe than sorry. It means: 'In the style of'.

So, we have 'Farm Hand sound like Joy Division in the style of the world's worst orchestra *winking, tongue out emoji*'.

No one was here to help me determine how bad the criticism was. I could wake up the 2 year old but I had a feeling that wound't help. So, I started replying to the Tweet... Fortunately, based on prior experience I will elaborate on shortly, I then remembered that no one should ever reveal that they Twitter Search their own name! Everyone pretends they don't do that, even though we all know that everyone does really. Mark, act like a cool artist! 

Because I was on my own and a bit tired, I felt like it was probably the worst tweet that had ever been sent. I obviously profile clicked him to find out who I was dealing with. He is a 'Baritone voice coach', or something. @CheyneyK became my troll and my arch nemesis for approximately 1 hour. I thought that my voice had probably offended him... it does have a habit of doing that to people but I'm not going to stop 'singing' anytime soon. Sorry! 

On reflection, now I'm revisiting it, I'm almost happy about it and I don't think he meant much harm. Or for me to think about it for the next week, non-stop. Joy Division are a decent reference point and I found out people like Brian Eno were in the Portsmouth Sinfonia so I'm taking it that he means I'm somekind of visionary genius. Also 'epic' must mean good, right? 

The recording is still online btw, here (around 20 mins in) so decide for yourselves!

In other related news, I've just confirmed 3 days of Farm Hand album recording with someone exciting that I've never worked with before. In emails back and forth we've been saying things to each other like "I'm really excited about this!" and "this is going to be great!".

I have a history of this type of bad Twitter searching activity. After Islet supported Battles in Cardiff Uni in 2011, I Twitter searched our band name and it was a mistake. There was a fair bit of negativity flying about! We must of upset the hardcore #rock #mathrock section of the crowd with our strange music and stage presence. Anyway, one person was quite angry about our existence and he tweeted something like "Islet are shit, I hate them I wish they would fuck off and stop #fuckoff"... Or words to that effect - I remember for sure that he definitely hash tagged 'fuck off'! 

Anyways,I clicked on his profile, found out he was in a band, found his contact details and, yes, you've guessed it, sent him an emotional email. What a fantastic idea, 2011 me! I was very polite but explained my position that it hurt and maybe he'd reconsider posting things like that in the future. Well, he strongly disagreed and felt it was his right to say that about us, considering we put ourselves up on stage. He wrote some more abuse and told me where to go. 

2-0 to him.

A week or two went by and then, suddenly, I had a great idea! I'd email him to tell him that I know everyone in the Cardiff music scene and owing to his meanness I'd see to it that his band would never get a gig in this town again! (he was from Swansea).

He told me to piss off and I wasn't important enough to make that happen. 

He was, of course, totally right and I was never going to do it anyway. 

3-0 & knockout! 

Another tragic example of my Twitter Search failure is when a member of a VERY GOOD American band tweeted 'Listening to Illuminated People, Islet are The Shit' just before we released that album. This time I didn't click on the profile so didn't know who it was and I tweeted back from Shape 'What exactly is that supposed to mean? And also, how have you even got it, it's not out yet' ... I assumed I had found him out as some kind of filesharing digital pirate so was doing my bit of internet vigilantism. 

He tweeted back 'I think Islet are great and your manager sent it to me'. I then googled 'The Shit'.... and worked out who he was. Urban Dictionary confirmed it meant the opposite of what I thought it did. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes. Grovelling apology tweet sent. Insert *monkey with hands over eyes emoji*. #cringe! 

Moral of the story: don't Twitter search! Or do, but just pretend you don't. 

Record Label Guilt

While the cat's away the mice will...

Write blogs and drink Pukka detox tea in front of the fire and go to bed early, apparently. Whilst Emms is away on tour doing gig-theatre (see my post Enough is Enough), I'm holding the fort here. Child (just turned 2) is in bed, asleep. Now, it's me time! Time to write a blog and prepare for my uni lectures on Monday and Tuesday. I could have prepared them on Friday but I took the opportunity to make music whilst the boy was in nursery for the day. I'm working on a Farm Hand album and we're also 34% through an Islet album so I was doing a couple of bits for that. Ideally, I would be able to do more music in the evenings but I woke the boy up playing a deep synth bass line the other week and haven't wanted to since then! 

Anyways, I wanted to write about something to get it out of my system and into the wild. I carry around a decent sized dose of guilt owing to the fact that I virtually never respond to anyone who sends / submits music to Shape Records. There is far more than I could possibly have ever imagined. I want to apologise to everyone who has sent us music and not received a response. I'm sorry! We never wanted to be that label but it happened. 

The inbox went particularly wild after we were on a BBC Four Documentary about Indie in late 2015. To be honest, it was an odd moment for me. I had talked quite a lot in the interview about being in a band self-releasing on Shape but it was all cut (fair enough, it wasn't the angle of the show) but as a result, it didn't mention us being musicians. Oddly, the next few weeks felt like a turning point for me in terms of where I was heading as I found it really odd to be defined solely as being a label person. I realised what was happening after a prominent (old school) Welsh music industry type asked me how I was "enjoying the transition from being an artist to being industry?". Definitely a line in the sand moment for me, I'll get more into that another time, maybe. 

Anyway, we got a crazy amount of emails submitting music (and even quite a few CVs!). I filed them all in a folder called 'Release Requests' and never looked again, I feel guilty about that too. I find all that stuff really overwhelming. All of the emails we got imagined that we had opportunities to offer left, right and centre. At the time we barely had opportunities for ourselves!

Some emails we get are fairly bullish pitches, others are very sweet, beautifully crafted emails, others are just really weird. A lot of people ask for feedback. I guess the main reason I find it stressful is that we are essentially rejecting people by not responding. I find this very awkward and being seen as a 'gatekeeper' is an odd by-product for me and the last thing I want. Please don't make me a gatekeeper! I see us as the opposite, the very reason we set Shape up was to go around or maybe even straight through the 'gate'. I've met a lot of industry types over the years who love all of that stuff. They love being the person who signed 'so and so' and love to dish out the feedback. Not for me, no way thank you. 

There is no real excuse for not replying. I could say 'it's because we're busy' but I read the other day that anyone who says they are busy is just bad at time management. I agree with that to some extent. I could have found the time to reply. I guess I just never know what to write, people care so much about their music, just a I do about mine so anything other than "Yeah! Let's do this!" feels like a rejection to the sender. Maybe I'm making too much of it and no one cares, but at least it is off my chest now. 

We set up Shape to release our own music and happen to have released some by other artists, all of which we remain friends with. For the most part I've had a lot of fun doing so and feel we have helped nurture some artists and also released music which would not have been released if we hadn't have done it. But, for the time being, I'm done. No more releases on Shape that are not a project of mine, Emma or my brothers and that's about it. I feel like I've taken my curiosity as far as I need to in terms of releasing other peoples music. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send us music, keep on keeping on, the world needs your music and we value your art. 

Edit 10 minutes later... I also want to apologise to most people I have actually replied to. I always make a right meal of it and give weird reasons and accidentally lead people on because I love their music. 

Clear conscious starts... Now?!